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Clockwork Enterprises #1

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat

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Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

274 pages, Paperback

First published September 2, 2014

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About the author

Nikki McCormack

17 books303 followers
Nikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12, which she still has tucked in a briefcase in her home office, waiting for the right moment. Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she continued to treat her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy presented her with an abundance of free time that she used to focus on making it her career.

Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest serving her wondrous cat-god. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She finds peace through practicing iaido or shooting her longbow.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 101 reviews
Profile Image for Amber at Fall Into Books.
524 reviews72 followers
July 9, 2016
I went into The Girl and the Clockwork Cat thinking it'd be a cute, light story to read, but it's so much more than that. McCormack combines two of my favorite things (steampunk and cats). Also, she doesn't pull any punches when it comes to dealing with life on the streets, and her sensory descriptions make Maeko's life seem very real. The characters themselves also come across a realistic and easy to relate to. Furthermore, McCormack's world-building is top notch. I really enjoyed every aspect of this book.

Maeko is a terrific leading lady. She's strong and independent. She doesn't compromise herself or her values for anyone. Maeko is no damsel in distress, so this isn't your typical rebellious and impoverished girl meets rich guy who takes her in and saves her. Nope. Maeko doesn't need saving, and if she did, she'd save herself. Yes, she worries about what people think sometimes, but don't we all? She still holds fast to what she believes, for the most part. However, her beliefs do change over the course of the novel. Maeko grows a lot in this book, and I can't wait to see what she chooses to do next. Ash is an okay love interest, but I really loved Chaff. He's a good guy, even if he is a little rough around the edges. Chaff has had a rough life, but he's not angsty, and I respected that. Ash is a bit of a pansy, in my opinion, but he does toughen up as the novel progresses. I also adored Macack, the cat. He has tons of personality.

The story itself is intriguing and unique. I really liked the feeling of suspense about the murders and not knowing who could and could not be trusted. I also enjoyed McCormack's world-building. I felt like I was in Victorian London. The author even uses English colloquialisms, which give the entire story an air of authenticity that many books set in London lack. The writing is fluid and the pacing is top notch. I was never bored and nothing felt rushed. There is a bit of a love triangle, but this book doesn't focus much on romance. The love triangle itself is more about Maeko deciding what kind of life she wants (does she want to stay on the streets or have a more comfortable life?) than it is about which boy Maeko has a bigger crush on. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, which left me hoping the next installment comes out soon.

Overall, I'd recommend this story to anyone who loves a good steampunk read, but is looking for something a little bit different. This book has heart, and it is easy to get lost in the world that McCormack created. Do yourself a favor and give this novel a try.
1,357 reviews33 followers
August 29, 2014
Maeko and her friend and mentor Chaff are street rats in Victorian London, trying to survive as best as they can. Maeko was abandoned by her mother, a Japanese prostitute, and she never knew her father; Maeko also wants to help her mum pay off debts that make her life difficult. One evening, while attempting to steal, Maeko and Chaff are almost caught by the authorities, and when hiding from them, Maeko finds a cat with a mechanical leg. The friends are discovered by a man named Garrett and his son Ash. Maeko is taken in, fed, and given a place to sleep, but she is awakened suddenly, a bag is thrown over her head, she is kidnapped, and the mechanical cat has vanished. Garrett apparently double-crossed them. She manages to escape and tries to find the owners of the mechanical cat, Macak, who had his owner’ name and address engraved inside his prosthesis. When Maeko reaches the flat, she finds 2 people dead, and comes face to face with Garrett and his son again. Finally Maeko and Chaff are reunited, but they someone has disappeared and they will have to make allies of some people who do not seem that trustworthy.

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat is a very entertaining and fun book about a plucky and clever teenage girl. I loved the fact that Maeko is half Japanese, and that issue is handled realistically. What impressed me most was the quality of Ms. McCormack’s writing: very elegant and truly Victorian; it feels like a Dickens novel! I loved that she was careful to use the words and vocabulary of the era. It might be a Steampunk novel; the language felt more genuine than most true historical novels. It’s a YA novel, full of adventures and will enchant everyone regardless of age, especially anyone who loves Steampunk and the English language: it is superbly written!
Profile Image for megHan.
604 reviews87 followers
September 2, 2014
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. No other consideration was offered, expected or received.

I am a huge fan of science fiction and steampunk, so when this came up for grabs from Entangled Teen, I had to give it a go. I've read several good books published from Entangled Publishing, but I must say that I like the Entangled Teen side the most. Yeah, it may have romance in the story, which I grudgingly read while mumbling under my breath (haha), but along with the romance is a really great stories and I don't have to deal with the guy taking the gal to bed the first day they know each other or explicit sex scenes, so if you're into a cleaner romance, definitely check them out.

This is a really fun story full of adventure and "action" - something is always happening with Maeko and there are never any "dull" moments as she goes from one thing to the next (sometimes one trouble to the next). She's fun to read about and the characters that she shares the story with (Chaff, Ash, the pirates, the street rats, the cops) are really well written, even the ones who are only in the story for a short time. The murder mystery turned conspiracy is definitely one that keeps you thinking.

The cat - the cat is awesome. I mean, most cats are awesome, but this one is special - how can you get any cooler than a clockwork one :)

It came out today and (9.2.2014) and is being sold on Amazon for $0.99 (they usually put it on for a week or so for $0.99 before moving it up to full price), so hurry up and go pick up a copy of your own. :)
Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews247 followers
December 22, 2014
3.5 stars

Arc provided by Entangled Publishing through Netgalley

In a time when we're assisting to a growing demand for stories able to respect the world's, people's, readers diversity, here is a story that breaks with the old fashioned pattern.
*thumbs up*
Maeko our main character _as the name indicates _is of Asian ascendency. Her mother is Japanese.
Therefore she has the built, and appearance of someone with that heritage....

I can't remember the last time I read a book in which the main character wasn't Caucasian..well maybe CE Murphy's series The Walker Papers...although looking at Harlequin's latest cover you would never figure that out!
But I digress...thank you Nikki McCormack for writing such an interesting and culturally diverse character!
I loved Maeko! :)

She's fierce, courageous and resourceful. She survives as best as she can on the streets of a steampunk Victorian London, through any means available to her: Breaking and entering, pick-pocketing, the girl has had a decade to develop her skills.
But she also has a big heart, and that is what ends up getting her into one big mess.

Maeko, is a very well developed character. She is strong, but she has this sense of sadness and frailty encompassing her_which is only natural considering her life _. This helps to see her as a real person. Unlike her mentor, Chaff who is all that is cocky and arrogant.

In the end, all she wants is to be wanted, and to have a family of her own.

"(..)but a person could starve for company just as they could starve for food."

Despite liking what was given to me regarding her characterization, I guess I would have liked even more, to have seen how her life was when she started living on the streets.
Maybe a little more of how her relationship with Chaff begun...but maybe that is reserved to a future story, or even a short story? ;)

This is a very action packed story that takes place in a steampunk environment...and this is where I feel that the story should have been more developed.

I confess that I haven't read that many steampunk novels, but even to me, the descriptions used to characterize this world, felt somewhat generalist and basic.
I wanted more out of this steampunk world, and I wanted descriptions of how those things looked like!

Also, the world-building?
It could use more "building", lol, it is somewhat lacking. The characters, and non stop action disguise this to a point, but there's quite an informational lacuna about this world, that should have been info dumped (lol) on us readers in the beginning of this story.

We have the Literatis, which seems to be more of a mentality, because in the beginning it seemed as if they were some sort of police officers who apparently didn't do much more than chasing the so called Rats, kids and teenagers who live on the streets, but then there was this:

Since the Literati had taken charge of local government operations, some street development and sewer maintenance was cut back in favor of cleaning criminals off the street, which mostly meant the homeless population because they were easier to apprehend than the truly dangerous ones.

I am just going to place them in the conservative/corrupt box...

"The Lits called it neighborhood improvement. The pirates called it class separatism."

Then there's the Pirates....
But then a distinction is made between Pirates and Bad pirates....and I was like: Say what?
Like I mentioned previously, I really needed more info on that.

But despite these things, I liked how the mystery was played, and I loved Macak, the cat !
Of course I am partial to cats...

The cat stopped a few strides away, looked at her, at the alley entrance, then at her again and meowed.
She grinned. “Oh? Brilliant plan. A half-Japanese street rat and a cat with a mechanical leg traveling together. That won’t draw unwanted attention.”

Bottom Line: If you want a fast paced read with a different taste to it, and if you're not too picky, I think you may like this!

Oh, be warned however that there's this incipient love triangle (o_O) in the story.
You know... the basic: When it pours, it rains!
Because every girl, has to suffer a love triangle in her life.

She already had the cat! ;)
Oh, and most importantly _before I forget it_ I would really, really like to read more of Maeko's adventures!

Preferably without love triangles...but I can manage around it!

Also my cat, Formiga approves of it!

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Profile Image for Jillyn.
732 reviews
September 4, 2014
I went into this novel not really sure of what to expect. While I love the fashions and stylings of steampunk, I admittedly haven't read many books in that genre. When I read the blurb and saw the cute cover for this one, I figured I would give it a shot. I enjoyed this far more than I anticipated, and I was hooked from the get-go.

First, I have to say that McCormack's world building and settings are incredible. The senses were blasted in a detailed way without seeming (dare I say) too descriptive. I was able to play out what the characters were doing, where they were doing it, what they wore, what scents were in the air. It was gorgeous. I also loved the way she described all the technology/steampunk elements. Even the way they spoke was riddled with English (and Japanese) slang that just gave the whole story that "authentic" vibe to it.

Then of course, there's the characters themselves. I adore Maeko, the lead heroine. She is strong and so damn fierce. I'd like to add that she's part Japanese, and I thought this was a nice touch, it's something unique that made her stand out.She can steal and lie with the best of the street rats, but she isn't overly angst-y. She has her own battles to fight and morals to stick to, and she knows what prices she's willing to pay to get justice for what's right, and to help who she deems to need it. She is helped by boys but doesn't necessarily depend on them, and that makes me happy. That being said, there are two boys involved, Ash and Chaff. It doesn't get super love-triangular (is that a phrase? It is now) but there is a dash of romance. Chaff is her mentor, a kid off the street who helped to show her the ropes. He never cares about his mates, it's his rule. And then there's Ash, who confuses her and knows little about her struggles on the street. Both are likable in their own way, and honestly I don't even know which one I prefer at this point. And then of course, there's the little fluffy hero Macak, the cat who has a clockwork prosthetic leg. He's like a cool steampunk familiar. I kind of want one for my own.

As for the story, I was left on my toes in a good way trying to sort out all the whodunnit. Who can you trust? Who is lying? What is happening!? I loved watching the mystery come together. It was well paced and filled with action. From fist fights to jail escapes, gun shot wounds and jealous boy sneers, there was never a dull moment. I was frustrated when the book ended, but only because it meant I couldn't stay lost in the world any longer.

In short, I would describe this as if the gang from Scooby Doo met up with the cast of Oliver Twist, but then added a kick ass Asian lead and a questionable law enforcement agency to make some awesome steampunk/fantasy love child of a book. Fans of steampunk, action, female leads, and light romance should be sure to check this one out. I know I'll want a physical copy for my shelf. I mean, it's British-Japanese steampunk cats solving crime. How can you not?

Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours who provided me with my copy in exchange for my honest review. This review can also be found on my new blog, Bitches n Prose.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,365 reviews188 followers
December 21, 2014
When Maeko finds a clockwork cat while running from Literati Officers she finds herself caught in the middle of political machinations between the ruling elite and the pirates who oppose them. When the wife and child of a famous inventor are murdered the blame immediately falls on the pirates but with detectives, assassins, businessmen, literati and pirates all pushing their own agenda it's hard knowing who is on her side and who will be the death of her.

She enlists the help of her partner in crime, Chaff, and the son of a pirate, Ash as she tries to find the murderer and save the day.

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat really is proper steam-punk. It's complex and gritty and highly entertaining. I can't really fault this book in any way.
44 reviews2 followers
September 2, 2014
Written in refreshing third person perspective, this novel delivers description, action, and moving characters in a pinwheel of strong, story momentum. There were times where direction dragged with a little too abundant description, but pace was never lost for long, and the subtle romance had me holding on throughout. Overall, an entertaining and even occasionally delightful read. Could have improved balance between certain elements, but certainly worth 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Elle Christensen.
Author 69 books1,187 followers
September 4, 2014
This is my first foray into Steampunk fiction. What a great place to start!!

“The Girl with the Clockwork Cat” had me glued to the pages right away. Nikki McCormack is a fantastic storyteller. Her world building abilities dropped me right into Victorian London. I could see the dirty streets, the bustling people, and the intricate details of the Macak’s clockwork leg. I could smell the aromas in the kitchen, the stench of prison, and the smell of so many of the London places Maeko visited. It’s all in the descriptive talents of Ms. McCormack, however she didn’t overwhelm, or bore me by spending too much time on the details.
The characters in this story are vivid and their personalities leap right off of the page. Maeko is certainly feisty, but you would have to be in order to survive on the streets. She is scrappy, determined, and incredibly intelligent. There is, however, a sweetness to her that rounds out her character, creating balance, allowing me to admire and empathize with her.

Macak is so intriguing. He has a strong personality and I must give to kudos to Ms. McCormack for being able to give Macak character without giving him a fictional ability to speak. It amazing when you connect with a character of the feline species in a book! Macak holds his own in the story, and is at time, Maeko’s best source of comfort.
I have to admit, I hate love triangles…97% of the time. So often I find myself unable to root for one person, I care too much about them both. Then in the end, I often find myself harboring animosity for the heroine. This book falls (mostly) into that 3%. I don’t love it, but I was not turned off by it. Again, I fell into the role of caring for both Chaff and Ash. The true test came in my opinion of Maeko at the pinnacle of the triangle. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes with those boys. They both have endearing qualities and ones that make you want to slap them upside the head sometimes. But, Maeko handles it well. Though her confusion is clear, I felt like she was open about it. I hate to choose sides…but I have to admit, I lean more towards Ash. He may have been a jerk in the beginning, but he redeems himself and I fell a little bit in love with him.

There are so many secondary characters that shape this story. Ms. McCormack knows how to contour the tale with the surrounding characters, moving it in the right direction with characters we love and characters we love to hate. I have to admit…I was a little bit in love with the Captain by the end of the story.
This book is so worth the read. It is fun, suspenseful, and riveting. While the story does find completion in the end, it is left open for a sequel. I will be waiting impatiently and am not above begging for that additional book!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

*A copy of this book was generously provided by YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Stéphanie.
254 reviews25 followers
September 9, 2014
It’s no secret that I love reading steampunk. However, I personally think if you’re invested in writing a steampunk novel, you have to dedicate a lot of time in world building. I was intrigued by the synopsis (and the cover art) of the THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT, and obviously the title of the book screamed steampunk. In reality this story could have been set in any world or any time. Except for the occasional mention of airships and the clockwork cat, there really wasn’t much point in setting this story in a steampunk world. In my opinion, the world building was almost non-existent.

Maeko, a half-Japanese girl has been roaming the Victorian London streets for almost a decade and now, because of a newly formed attachment to a cat, has stumbled upon a missing person’s investigation turned murder investigation. The initial mystery is intriguing but I find everything goes downhill from there. She gets captured by the Lit (a type of police force), placed into jail, escapes, and the following night gets placed in jail again. Yep, you guessed it, she escapes a second time, however this time with a new friend, Ash. Together, Maeko and Ash try to find and help Ash’s family that has unfortunately gotten involved in the murder investigation. A good amount of the novel is spent searching for the cat and for family members. It felt like everything was on repeat, probably because it was. Fast-paced action is usually a good thing, however in this novel, the action was so fast that it was hard to keep track of everything, and didn’t let the reader appreciate the story.

I’m relieved the characterization was a little bit better than the world building. Maeko, the main character, is intriguing because of her Japanese heritage and because of her troubled past. The author could have expanded a little more on Maeko’s past in order to really understand what drives this teen to take such risks with her life. She calls herself a street rat but whenever someone points it out, her first instinct is to say, “I’m not a street rat!” She’s a little bit immature but her association with Ash actually helps her see the world from a different point of view. All of a sudden, life is more than pick-pocketing and living off scraps. She see the possibility in having a better life, of living off the streets, and she has a hard time deciding what is best for her.

Ash, the good looking boy she’s trying to help, might be the first boy that sees her as a girl. All the other boys on the streets know that she’s a girl and belittle her for it, but Ash is the first one that makes her blush and makes her think about the possibility of romance. Chaff, her pick-pocketing mentor, also becomes interested in Maeko, probably because he gets jealous and doesn’t like the idea of losing her to someone like Ash. Regrettably, the almost-there love triangle is a tease because is it doesn’t result in much.

Overall, THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT wasn’t for me. It left me wanting and confused about the direction of the plot. It’s not clear if this novel will have a sequel or not, and if it doesn’t, the ending is unsatisfying and incomplete. The novel seems to have mixed reviews on Goodreads since some people seemed to have liked it. Personally it doesn’t rank very high on my list of YA steampunk.
Profile Image for Nicole.
962 reviews5 followers
September 2, 2014
Note, I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Entagled Publishing.

An orphan child runs around town, dodging the law while trying to secure its next meal, branded a street rat. Sure, it may sound like a take on Disney's Aladdin, but The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack places this strong girl in the midst of a murder mystery in a Steampunk world where trust is even more precious than the tin used as currency.

Maeko doesn't consider herself a street rat, but society does. Maeko has been on her own for a long time, but she makes her way passing as a guy and collecting tin to pay off her dead mother's debt. But all that she knows changes when Maeko finds a ticking cat with a mechanical arm in the alleyway--and the cat's got an etched address within the mechanism that leads Maeko headfirst into the penthouse suite of a high-profile building, a suite with two dead bodies within.

The pacing and world-building aspects of this novel were essential to my enjoyment. I admit, that I am not normally a steampunk reader--while I love the concepts, I have a hard time getting into reading books set within the genre. The Girl and the Clockwork Cat provided me with an introduction to the novel, set within something I love--a classic mystery. This book also offers elements of comedy, thriller and drama.

Maeko is strong and she knows her strengths--I love seeing a confident teen heroine (whom is not without her vulnerable moments, of course). I loved the cat, Macak, as well. I wanted to know more about the cat, and found myself pulling one of our cats for a cuddle while reading this book (Newsflash: I survived).

The ensemble cast is also great. McCormack writes high society and low society without pretension or judgment--allowing the characters to speak for themselves in the manner in which they honestly would.

First off, as I have said, I am not a steampunk reader--at least I haven't been before reading The Girl and the Clockwork Cat. I found this novel to be a fun and exciting introduction to the genre, and am looking forward to delving into the dirigibles and clockworks head first.

This book has 224 pages, and released today, September 2, 2014.
Profile Image for Jessica Adkins-Charles.
124 reviews17 followers
September 6, 2014
Maeko has been on her own since a young age. A street rat is what they call the children and others like her who live on the streets with no home to call their own and no place to go.

When Maeko finds a cat in an alleyway, she sees a friend, but the adventure the 'clockwork' cat leads her on leaves the cat her ally. In a race to clear the name of the kind gentlemen who treated her like a young lady and not a street rat, Maeko finds herself in dangerous waters.

Will Maeko be in time to save all the people counting on her or will it be too much of a burden for a teenage girl to bear?

The Girl and The Clockwork Cat is the first ever steampunk novel I have read, but it won't be the last. Nikki McCormack draws you into a world you can only imagine and leads you on a great adventure full of mystery and dare devil heroics.

Maeko, the heroine of the novel is not like other heroines. She is a young Japanese girl living on the streets after running away from home years earlier. Only a teenager, she has overcome incredible odds to stay alive and to be safe and healthy. Chaff her friends has helped keep her safe but she lacks true companionship which is where the clockwork cat comes in. They both need and depend on one another and their bond becomes cemented over time. I loved the fact that Maeko welcomed this cat into her life and that they both kept rescuing one another.

The other thing I loved was how Maeko's relationships are all left unsaid. Will Maeko form a relationship with the mother who she believed turned her back on her? Will she choose Ash or Chaff. Only Maeko has the answers, but The Girl and The Clockwork Cat leaves it to us, the readers, to draw our own conclusions. So I ask of you, my fellow readers, after you read The Girl and The Clockwork Cat to let me know whose team are you on. Are you a supporter of Maeko and Chaff or Maeko and Ash?

Nikki McCormack's The Girl and The Clockwork Cat is the perfect read for all those who love the steampunk genre. I suggest you all pick up your copy today. Even readers like me who have never read steampunk before this book are sure to enjoy it.

And with that I give The Girl and The Clockwork Cat a 4 star rating.
Profile Image for Jocelyn.
75 reviews19 followers
September 2, 2014
Thoughts prior to reading it:

I received an email from entangled and I saw the cover it had a girl and a cat in it and my inner crazy cat lady said “Ooo, a cat read it!” and just like that I gave in. I know I’m such a dork and a future crazy cat lady currently own two…. Anyways getting back on track I really didn’t know what this book was about. I just saw YA and thought this looks good. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I always do, is that a bad thing? So a few days later after I requested the copy I received it and began to eagerly read it.

Thoughts after reading it:

This book I quick paced if you skim over the page you will most likely miss something vital and find yourself thinking wait how did that happen? So the book is about Maeko who is half Japanese. She is in the most unfortunate circumstances at 16. She has to fend for her own in the streets. She has learned that invisibility is a great survival tool. So Maeko dresses in boy’s clothes, keeps her hair cut short and wraps her chest in bandages. She has managed to evade any major problems but one day she finds a cat with a strange prosthetic leg. Little did she know that the cat would bring her world shattering to pieces, because now has to face bigger bullies. I think this is a great book to read and it won’t take up to much of your time.

My rating:
Profile Image for Jen.
1,783 reviews59 followers
September 1, 2014
The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack is also a YA novel, but perhaps for younger readers. Maekko is a young thief in a Steampunk version of London. On her own for years, the only stability in her life is provided by Chaff, head of a group of street rats--abandoned children who, like Maekko, steal to survive.

When Maekko and Chaff are interrupted during a robbery, the two split up; Maekko barely manages to escape the Literati officers, but finds temporary shelter and a cat with a clockwork leg. The cat, whose missing leg has been replaced with a marvelous clockwork prosthetic, enchants Maekko. Maekko's security doesn't last very long as someone tips the Literati, and she is carted off to jail.

Naturally, we can't have our heroine remain in jail, but her escape leads to much worse than the threat of being sent to an orphanage: a killer's threat, two dead bodies, and Ash, the son of the chief suspect. Maekko and Ash make an unlikely team, and initially there is a lot of sparring, but gradually they begin to appreciate each other's good qualities--which is a good thing if they want to stay alive.

A debut novel that I think young readers will enjoy. OK. I did, too.

YA/Steampunk/Fantasy. Sept. 2, 2014. Print length: 224 pages.
Profile Image for Chris.
184 reviews
April 6, 2020
I have to admit that the main reason I got this book is because of the cat on the cover and "clockwork cat" in the title. As a fan of steampunk and a lover of cats, I thought for sure this book was for me.

Early on we meet Maeko and Chaff, street rats from old time steampunk London, and I was instantly intrigued with the story as they were breaking into a shop. Immediately we are introduced to Maeko's ability to survive on the streets as she runs and hides from the police. By now, still very early into the book I am invested in the characters and looking forward to reading the rest of the story. Then Maeko meets the cat and the author commits an atrocity that made me put the book down. But the characters....I really want to know the story. So I choose to overlook the thing that bothered me and I read on. Totally worth it!

The story is so well written and developed. Maeko is fierce but vulnerable and her development throughout the story is a pleasure to witness. So much so that once I realized there were more books in the series I immediately hopped onto Amazon.

My only problem with the book is the fact that the title makes you think that there is a lot of steampunk elements and the cat being a major part of the story. Neither of these are true. The cat is really kind of part of the plot device used to move the story forward and isn't even in the story that much. And to be honest, the cat's name is horrible. Also, there isn't enough description of the world to feel truly immersed into a steampunk world. Now for some these may be major problems but again, the characters had me drawn in completely and I enjoyed the book in spite of those shortcomings.
Profile Image for Kristin.
117 reviews
January 26, 2019
Non-stop action

Makeo’s strong, independent character is softened with just enough vulnerability to make her human. This is despite her godlike ability to function for almost the entire book with minimal food or sleep. I really enjoyed the action, intrigue, characters and world building in this book.
Profile Image for Yzabel Ginsberg.
Author 3 books105 followers
September 6, 2014
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

I had good expectations for this story (a street thief, victorian/steampunkish setting, part-mechanical cat), but in the end, it won't leave me with a lasting impression, unfortunately.

The daughter of a prostitute and one of her unnamed customers, Maeko hit the streets after her mother got in debt, trying to help her pay it back as well as she could, but also resenting her. She made her way as a pickpocket and burglar, thanks to her nimble fingers and lithe body, and because she was street-savvy enough. That is, until the beginning of the novel, for at some point I thought she was not as clever as she was supposed to be. Some of her reactions seemed logical, but some of her other actions were too naive. (For instance, when she had to keep something from an enemy, she went back to a certain place, saw that said enemy had located it, too... yet she still went there to hide her package. The natural thing to do would have been to think "this place is compromised, he might not have believed what they told him, and come back later with more people." At least that's what "street rat thinking" should be for me.)

The setting itself is an alternate London divided between the Literati (the "modern society" and its police) and the pirates (those who openly don't approve); the kids who fall between those are doomed to a life in an orphanage, reform house or work house, or to a life on the streets. Mostly we see this world through Maeko's eyes, so of course everything couldn't be developed, but it would've been better in my opinion if she had had just a little more interest in what happened around her, or if other characters had been there to give more information about that society. Some do... just not enough. This setting screams for more, having more to say about itself, without any room to do so.

The romance part was unneeded, a love triangle dumped out of nowhere on those poor characters. All it did was to make Maeko blush and blush and blush again and again. It quickly became old and tiring, and did not bring anything to the story. At least Maeko realised there was no time to think about boys in her predicament. On the downside, she had those thoughts fairly often, which created a tiresome cycle: "I think I like him. But I must not think about that now. But I think I like him. But I don't have time to worry about this now."

I wasn't too impressed with the plot, which consisted mostly in two/three characters looking for people (the same people every time). Just like Maeko's thoughts and blushing, it became repetitive after a while: locate people, see they're already in someone else's hands, realise they're in no position to help them escape, retreat/get pursued by the police or detective, hide, rinse and repeat. I really wished the plot types would have been more varied.

The writing was all right, though a bit redundant and "telly" in places (especially when Maeko's thought process was concerned).

The ending: if this is a standalone, then it deserved a better one, a proper one, that would wrap up everything, not just leave the reader to imagine "it probably happened like that". If it wasn't, it's still a sort of cliffhanger, but one that doesn't offer that many promises of revelations in a second book.

In the end, there were grounds for good things here, but those weren't enough to make me enjoy the story.
Profile Image for Rivalie.
597 reviews43 followers
September 1, 2014
3.5 out of 5 stars

Maeko is a street rat with exceptional skills. One night, she stumbles across a cat with a clockwork leg. Before she knows it, she's hanging out with a bunch of pirate musicians and then she's in jail and the cat is gone. Luckily, Maeko's tiny and she can easily fit through the bars to escape. Something stops her, a man who begs her to free him. She does and once they're free, he turns on her. Then she stumbles into the office/apartment of the owner who made the cat's clockwork leg to find two people dead and the pirate she saw earlier is the leading suspect.

Before I get into any detail, I just want to say that this book was really fun. The only reason why I didn't give it a higher rating was because I had just finished Clockwork Princess and I wanted something with clockwork things and that's what the publisher pitched it as. Personally, not as good as Clockwork Princess but it's still a really great book. I just wanted to clarify that, okay moving on~

One thing that Nikki McCormack did really well was capture the essence of Victorian London. The language, the writing, the way the characters spoke reflected the era really well. The characters were real and they touched you. Maeko has been living on the streets, but she has a mother who lives in a house. Why is that? Why did she run away? Maeko was a really interesting character for me. She was street smart and cunning, but she's a kid and you see that reflected through her personality and how she acts. The way that she acts around people and how she handles things show that she's a kid but she's a smart kid.

The murder mystery intrigue was overwhelming. You got to see everything unfold and you have your suspicions and at times, you even suspect the people that are close to Maeko. Honestly, the intrigue of the story was what kept me turning the pages. It lures and pulls you into the story and makes you question the facts. Let me just say that if I ever run into Hatchet-face in real like I'm going to be real damn scared.

There's a touch of romance but not too much. We have Ash on one side of the love triangle and Chaff on the other. I don't know whose side I'm on yet, but I'm leaning towards Chaff. Ash is a good kid, he's loyal to his family and he's determined. But Chaff, he's Maeko's mentor and there are so many times that he could have just been like "Nope sorry girl, I'm not helping and risking my life for someone I don't know, but he doesn't! He helps because Maeko is determined to help Ash clear his father's name and he doesn't want Maeko getting hurt or in trouble. Another reason why I'm leaning more towards Chaff is that he knows Maeko and he knows her abilities so throughout the book he never second guesses herself even when she might be feeling doubtful.

Okay so the conclusion. The Girl and the Clockwork Cat has action, mystery, intrigue, and really lovable characters. Definitely recommend that you guys give it a shot and if you do, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Read my reviews at:
Profile Image for Lelia Taylor.
872 reviews17 followers
September 13, 2014
Steampunk fiction has been around for years but began to be really popular about 10-15 years ago. I had read a few pieces before then but I really fell into it with authors like Gail Carriger, S.M. Stirling and Cherie Priest. I gravitate towards fiction that is a mishmash of subgenres and steampunk does that very well, frequently being a blend of science fiction, mystery, dark fantasy, alternate history, maybe even post-apocalyptic and a few other elements. i liked it so much that, after a while, I sort of ran out of, er…steam (pun intended)…and I haven’t read much of it in several years.

Still, I hadn’t given up on it so I was really happy to get the chance to dive into this world again with The Girl and the Clockwork Cat, hoping I would find it as entertaining as ever. I’m happy to say Ms. McCormack didn’t let me down :-)

This author has two particular strengths. One is her worldbuilding and setting. Ms. McCormack’s descriptive abilities bring her idea of Victorian London to life and is solid enough to also evoke the settings of some of the best Victorian-era mysteries by such authors as Anne Perry and Will Thomas. It also doesn’t hurt that Maeko finds herself right smack in the middle of an intense mystery that really engages her intelligence as well as street smarts.

The author’s other main strength is in her characters who are vivid and engaging, even those who can’t be considered likeable. Maeko is a heroine anyone can admire and feel an attachment to and the two guys in her life, Chaff and Ash, will stick in my mind for quite a while. They’re not perfect by any means, thank heavens, and there are times when Maeko is leaps and bounds ahead of them, but I do like them a lot.

Then there is Macak, a very unique cat with a mechanical leg. Macak is a delight, a kitty with some unique qualities, and he can hold his own when he needs to, not to mention lend a comforting purr from time to time. He is now one of my favorite fictional cats and, if nothing else would draw me back to a possible sequel, he would. I do hope there will be more of Maeko and Macak and their pals. Please, Ms. McCormack, bring them back to us!

Oh, and by the way, if you love cats and pictures of cats as much as I do, you really have to check out her website ;-)))

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2014.
Profile Image for Michael (Mai).
827 reviews99 followers
September 7, 2014
Hey, guess who was pleasantly surprised by this little gem? That’s right. Me. I stayed up until 2:30a.m. reading because I wanted to finish.

Why was I so surprised? Actually, I judged a book by it’s cover and title. They were pretty much the only things about the book that I didn’t like. The Girl and the Clockwork Cat makes it seem like it’s a middle grade book that is going to lack depth, so does the cover. But truthfully, I hope most people aren’t like me and gives this book a chance because I thought it was fantastic.

Maeko, is a street rat, left to live a harsh life of thieving. She only has one person she can trust, Chaff. While that sounds terrible, it’s a simple life and she’s used to it. Doesn’t really mind most of the hardships either. But when a cat with a clockwork leg ends up in her lap things change drastically for her.

Her life was already adventurous but now she is deep in some stuff she doesn’t want to be involved in but because of her kind heart (that she tries to ignore and definitely not put out on display) she becomes the center of the conflict so she can help out people that maybe don’t deserve it. But, hey, that’s also how she meets Ash.

I normally don’t like a love triangle. They add angst that is usually unnecessary. In most books they are written in a way that you know who the winner will be right off the bat and you just have to feel bad for the sad sap that is the third wheel. Not this one. I rooted for both and shunned the idea of both and different times. It was very out of the ordinary and thus a good plot device. And just as an aside, while I like romance in my stories, I don’t like for that to be the focal point most of the time. This one was mainly a tale of adventure with some romance on the side. Loved that.

It ended in a way that makes me believe there will be a sequel (that I will absolutely read if it comes out) but it also makes for a fine stand-alone novel.

A few things I would have like to have seen: (1) Ash and Maeko kiss. Come on. I really wanted that. (2) To find out more about the dude who was in jail that gave Maeko the heads up that Hatchet-face shouldn’t be trusted.

Overall, great read and I recommended to everyone likes a good adventure tale.
Profile Image for J. Nicole.
171 reviews16 followers
September 3, 2014
I can honestly say that one of my favorite characters would be a cat named Macak, but here I am. In my defense, the very idea of a clockwork cat is incredibly awesome, and not just because of how fun it is to say. If someone can bring that to reality, I'd love to have one. Plus, you know, actions speak louder than words, and this cat sure had some delightful behavior. But all cats aside, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat is a very enjoyable read. Fans of Steampunk will be able to devour this novel with no trouble at all.

I really did love Macak, but the human characters are pretty cool too. And they say stuff, so that's a bonus. Maeko is a fantastic protagonist, and I adored the fact that she felt to be a major driving point of the plot at times, getting more and more involved with the murders. It was also great to see her relationship with Macak grow, as that's not a kind of relationship often utilized in novels! Not to mention, this is an excellent example of diversity in YA, which makes it all the more wonderful!

The setting of Victorian London creates a great world for the story, while giving quite the tone. Mixed with the murders and beautiful prose, I really enjoyed the read. What can I say? I like my Steampunk how I like my chocolate - smooth and dark - and The Girl and the Clockwork Cat delivers. There's a good pacing that only escalates throughout the read, making it a definite ride from start to finish.

I like a good love V every once in a while, but it's only fun if a have a definite side to root for. I suppose it's not a bad thing that I liked both Chaff and Ash, as both of them are well enough developed characters, but I was a little disappointed that neither of them really won me over.

The Girl and the Clockwork Cat is a wonderful YA Steampunk, especially if you're like me and have an unexplainable "thing" for clockwork in novels. (I like everything about it. Even the way the word sounds. Can I tell you why? Not really.) But even if that isn't for you, McCormack crafted a novel with enough layers and language - it still could be well worth the read.
Author 1 book7 followers
August 23, 2015
THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT took me right into a grimy, polluted steampunk Victorian London. Maeko, a homeless "street rat", accepts from kindness from a stranger and all kinds of trouble results. She gets wrapped up in a murder investigation and risks her life, as well as the lives of those around her, to make sure the right man is brought to justice.

The detailed world-building was at times too sensory--I felt like I needed to take a bath after Maeko's super slimy adventures by the ashbins! Maeko's adventures lead her all around London, which really gave the landscape a chance to shine...or, perhaps simply glow under the "smelly yellow fog draped over..the city like a moldy blanket."

I liked her character- the hardened street rat with the soft interior that she struggles to keep hidden. She balances a well-honed survival instinct with a well-intentioned desire to see justice served (two conflicting drives which definitely create trouble for her!)

Although this is book will be part of a series, it works as a standalone--at least for this reader. I know the reviewer with the annoying gif (which is unfortunately the first review you see for this book though it was written almost a year ago!)has some snark about it being a standalone with a cliffhanger. Which is confusing because it IS quite clear that this is book one in a series. That being said, I like how things are not neatly wrapped up in the last scene. The reader understands that the threat of danger is over. Maeko might still have to figure out her feelings toward the two boys who are enamored with her. And the two adults with her have conflicting ideas about what she might do going forward--besides going back to her life as a street rat. So, she has decisions to make but I like being able to guess what that might be.

But, since there will be a second book, I'll just put it out there that I hope the social struggle between the Literati and the pirates is a prominent plot point as I found that an interesting backstory!

Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,389 reviews51 followers
February 3, 2015

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Clockworks? Check! Airships? Check! Orphans? Check! London? Check!

Diagnosis: Steampunk.

Maeko has been living as a street rat for years now. Her mother a Japanese prostitute and her father unknown, no one really cares about her except Chaff, the leader of a street pickpocketing and burgling gang. When Maeko meets a cat with a clockwork leg, she has no idea in what kind of conspiracy she finds herself...

I enjoyed this story, it was a nice and quick read. However, when I started to think about exactly why I enjoyed it, I couldn't really find things that stood out for me. So it was basically the setting in London I liked, and the story was probably just what I was looking for these last few day. Something not too complicated, but nice enough.

The story wasn't flawless. As I usually find in YA 'mysteries' the mystery was quite easy and it didn't took Maeko long to find new clues and everything. She's supposed to be very streetwise and almost seventeen, but when reading I'd guess she was around thirteen at most. And there's a *BRACE YOURSELF* love triangle! *sigh* There isn't too much romance it this book but why does it have to be a love triangle, again...

The setting was London, but a bit alternate. There's the Literati (upperclass and modern, from what I read in the book) and the Pirates (more like Luddite or just opposing the Literati). The problem is just that the story tells so little about this world that I don't really know what is going on. I understand that this is Maeko's story and she's neither Literati nor Pirate, but still, I'd like to see a bit more world building.

But still, I had some nice hours reading this book. And, if it happens not to be a standalone, then perhaps I'll find out more about the world in the next book...
Profile Image for Ann.
37 reviews4 followers
September 8, 2014
Another new on my list, The Girl And The Clockwork Cat is all about Maeko and her quest on helping Ash(for a price of course) search for the truth. To my eyes the story is as fresh as mint chocolate chip ice cream. On one side there is this guy, Chaff who took her under his wing and without a doubt has a thing for her and then there is Ash and she thinks she is no good for him and not to mention she also have feelings for Chaff. Two cute guys will definitely give her a hard time. It is also quite filled with interesting characters like Ash's dad, a pirate, that's cool!

Most stories I read dogs are present but this time there is a cat named Macak and he is a unique pet with all those gears that support his leg. It is quite adorable. I like how our authpr incorporated that into the story. I also love the sense of adventure this story have like being caught by the Literati twice but being witty enough to escape both. At one point it was just about surviving the streets of London but as the story progressed it turned out to be an enjoyable story of triumph.

The overall impact of this to me is way up there considering there is excitement, love, friendship among others. It was smoothly written with a positive outcome by the end although there was just one thing I could hope for was written differently but that's just me. Still it is a must read I gurantee.

Profile Image for Kelsey.
100 reviews
September 2, 2014
Rating: 3 stars

When I first read the synopsis, I thought that the cat's name was Chaff and both Maeko and Chaff the "cat" want to explore their feelings for one another. Obviously, that is not the case. This is a YA book, but not in the way other books are. This doesn't focus on Maeko or her troubled home life, although she does go to get help from someone who she would never want to see again, but it does focus on the brutal murder and disappearance of Mr. Folesworth and his wife and daughter and Captain Garret as the suspect.

It was an ok book as far as a YA book goes, but it was a good mystery book. I thought it might be the next big standalone book because it deals with the Steampunk time period in London which is an interesting time to consider. And it has a cute cat on the front!! But it wasn't all I thought it would be. Maeko, the main character, has two boys vying for her attention. Ash, the murder suspects son, and Chaff, the only person who cared for her and taught her how to survive on the streets. I wished she would've choose one in the end, but no such luck. Everyone loves a good love triangle!!
Profile Image for Rhianna.
459 reviews86 followers
September 10, 2014
Wasn't a showstopper...

When half-Japanese thief Maeko stumbles upon a rather mysterious cat with a clockwork leg while hiding in an alley her life gets turned upside down. Encounters with cops, corpses, and criminals have her on the run with only her friend, Chaff, and Ash, a boy who's father might be a murderer to have her back. And... that's really it...

I am a terrible reviewer sometimes but this book kind of did that for me. There's just so much running about chasing from one problem to another. It's fast-paced but in the way that eventually feels like you're going 'round in circles. That said, I really enjoyed McCormack's vision of Victorian London with a sort of social revolution brewing between a group called the Literati and another group of folks referred to as pirates.

While it was the kind of read that left me shrugging as to what to really say about it when I finished it's certainly an interesting start to a series.

Notes: ARC received via publisher.
Profile Image for Sadie Forsythe.
Author 1 book272 followers
June 10, 2019
Not bad, though I thought it a tad over-long and (as always) I was annoyed to find a love triangle. Beyond that, I liked Maeko as a character and appreciated the somewhat dystopic steampunk London. I would have appreciated a bit more world-building though. My main complaint however, is that the whole premise of the book is anchored in a decision Maeko is supposed to have made at six, based on an overheard conversation. Even in a dystopian world, I can't believe a six-year-old would do what she's supposed to have done (and never gone back on the decision). This really undermined the believability of the story for me. It also made the predictable "Oops, my misunderstanding" exceedingly annoying. All in all, I didn't not like it. I just had niggles with it.

As a side note, I'm additionally annoyed to find a girl in fishnets and a frilly skirt on the cover of a story about a girl who spends the whole book dressing as a boy and ACTIVELY tring to hide that she's a girl.
Profile Image for Larisa.
246 reviews4 followers
May 30, 2017
Really I would rate this a 3.5. Very enjoyable story but definitely what I would classify as light reading. Aside from Maeko, the main character, I didn't see very much character development; this is more of a mystery/action novel (lots of chase scenes). The steampunk setting was described very well and I do plan to read the sequel. My main complaint is that the cover artist clearly knew nothing whatsoever about the story, as the girl never wears skirts or dresses and the cat's clockwork leg is its right front leg not its left back leg.
Profile Image for Talk Supe.
1,283 reviews93 followers
September 14, 2014
I feel deceived by this book. It's steampunk but it lacked that wondrous world of Victorian gadgets, science, alchemy, & engineered feel unique to the genre. The darn cat and it's mechanized legs are the only indication that this MIGHT be steampunk as well as mentions here and there of automated machinery.

The concept is cool offering diverse characters but it lacked development and the inserted romance is lukewarm at best.
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